CIVIL Aeronautics Board (CAB) Executive Director Carmelo Arcilla appears to be sleeping on the job. Well, that or he’s in the pocket of some airline companies. Why? Because in spite of the numerous complaints against the misleading (or some say, false) advertising of certain airline companies, the CAB has not summoned let alone investigated or penalized any of them.
One of the airlines companies being complained about for misleading advertisements is Air Asia. In a previous column, we wrote about the complaint of a reader (a.k.a. Jane) regarding Air Asia’s recent P0.01 (1 centavo) seat sale promo.
According to Jane, Air Asia supposedly offered 3 million all-in promo seats to various domestic and international destinations. But when Jane tried booking a trip to Siem Reap, Cambodia, she says the bargain-price ticket she got for her outbound flight from Manila turned out be non-existent because all return flights from Siem Reap for the entire promo period from June 10, 2015 up to December 31, 2015 were (believe it or not) unavailable or sold out.
When Jane was prompted by Air Asia’s website to search alternative dates for her return flight, she was instead redirected to the webpage for regular fares. Jane now believes the whole seat sale promo of Air Asia was a scam.
We cannot blame Jane if she feels cheated by her recent experience. She’s not alone. There are a lot of forums and blogs in the internet complaining about Air Asia’s deceptive marketing practices.
Which is why we were not surprised to learn that Air Asia was previously fined 200,000 dollars by the Federal Court in Australia after the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the country’s consumer watchdog, filed a lawsuit against Air Asia for misleading pricing.
The Australian court said that due to the “seductive effect” of a quoted price, “…the consumer may well be attracted to a transaction which he or she would not otherwise have found to be appealing and grudgingly pay the additional imposts rather than go to the trouble of withdrawing from the transaction and looking elsewhere.”
Our country also has a similar rules and regulations against deceptive advertising under the Air Passenger Bill of Rights issued by the Department of Transportation and Communications (DOTC) and the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) in 2012.
The bill of rights expressly states that “advertisements of fares shall..not [be]misleading.” The regulation also requires that “every air carrier causing the publication of fare advertisements in any medium” (this means ads not just on TV or newspaper but also the internet) must disclose certain information that should “occupy not less than one-third (1/3) of the advertising material.”
We’ve looked into Air Asia’s latest fare promo and discovered that its advertisements (like previous ones) do not at all comply with the regulations. It is CAB’s Arcilla who ought to be enforcing these advertising rules against Air Asia. But what has he done to protect air passengers’ interests? Nada. Zilch.
It certainly isn’t due to a lack of authority because the law gives CAB the power to investigate motu Proprio (on its own initiative) and to penalize air carriers for violating the rules. In fact, under the law, the CAB can even suspend or withhold Air Asia’s existing request for additional seat entitlements.
Why CAB’s Arcilla continues to ignore Air Asia’s flagrant violation of passenger rights certainly says a lot about our rotten bureaucracy.
Utopia’s Golden Anniversary
Twelve days from today, December 14, 2014, the Fraternal Order of Utopia of the Ateneo College of Law will be celebrating its golden anniversary with a dinner ball at the Sofitel Philippine Plaza Hotel Grand Ballroom. How time really flies.
It was fifty years ago when a handful of honor students of the Ateneo College of Law banded together to break the “bar operations” monopoly in the Padre Faura campus. Inspired by the 16th century book Utopia of St. Thomas More (the patron saint of jurists, lawyers, statesmen and the Ateneo Law School) about an ideal society which has as its supreme goal the service of the human person, these honor students decided to call their group “The Order of Utopia.”
This informal guild of honor students has since transformed into a fraternity known as “The Fraternal Order of Utopia” or simply Utopia, for Ateneans.
Over the past five decades, Utopia has produced more 40 Bar topnotchers. Meanwhile, living the motto “Excellence, Service and Sacrifice,” many Utopians have distinguished themselves in various fields of endeavor, both in government and the private sector. Among them are three Supreme Court justices.
Utopia’s president, the indefatigable and hardworking (and current HLURB Commissioner) Antonio “Tony” Bernardo, is calling on all Utopians to attend this once-in-a-lifetime event and renew their covenant with the fraternity.
Those who wish to buy tickets or reserve seats for Utopia’s 50th Golden Anniversary Ball in advance may call or text Tony (whose cell phone is a veritable directory of Utopia) or email firstname.lastname@example.org.